Transforming a builder’s special into a fancy farm
Deirdre Arutunian and daughter Emma Farrell cool off on the front steps of Farrell Farm with pooches Howie, Luna, and Hunter.
Deirdre Arutunian wasn’t house hunting when she came to Mt. Kisco ten years ago; she and her family had simply driven to Westchester from their home on Long Island for an afternoon of go-karting and took a wrong turn. “We ended up in Bedford, driving all those back roads and fell in love,” says the interior designer. “We came back the next day, found a real estate agent, and looked at 60 different houses. This was the last one.” She and her former husband, Bradley Farrell, fell for the rural setting and the unimpeded view of the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. The house itself—a “builder’s special,” according to Arutunian—was just a foundation for what they would later create.
At first, they simply enrolled daughters Emma and Ellis in the local school, added a fresh coat of paint to the interior walls, and settled in. But, Arutunian, an equestrian who learned to ride in her native Virginia, quickly got to work outdoors where she wanted to create a little farm with a big view. She painted the existing yellow barn red, added a riding ring and a chicken coop, and over time brought in a horse, pony, chickens, sheep, goats, alpacas, and three dogs.
Indoors, she filled the house with country French and English furnishings. Alas, she was waiting for an “aha” moment that would send her in a unique décor direction, and a family trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming provided exactly the inspiration she was looking for. “We fell in love with the old wood and the beams and the architecture, and we wanted to recreate it—not so American but rather with a French twist,” she recalls.
After their return, Farrell set about locating vintage wood to incorporate into their home décor. He ended up purchasing a Civil War-era barn and a c. 1700s carriage house from upstate New York that were dismantled and brought to the newly christened Farrell Farm for installation. “Bradley meticulously designed the wood placement and worked closely with our contractor, Bob Torre, to determine exactly how each piece of wood would be installed,” Arutunian says. The repurposed barn flooring and beams now accent the ceilings and walls throughout the first floor in historically inspired patterns.
Arutunian says that bringing in the barn wood was like opening a Pandora’s box; everything else then needed to be changed to work with the new rustic vibe. She replaced the shiny marble entry floor with brick and stained the blonde floors a darker shade. On the walls, she decided to take a risk by hanging elegant wallpaper. “What I wanted to do, I couldn’t find online,” she says regarding her desire to mix vintage barn wood with fancy wallpaper, French décor, and crystals. “People weren’t doing this. So, I had to wing it.” She also updated the exterior, installing rustic beams above the windows, adding new shutters, painting the brick and clapboard white, and adding lush landscaping.
The new parking court directs visitors to the terraced-brick front entrance. Indoors, the two-story foyer is adorned with imported tapestries and hand-painted silhouettes of dogs. On the left is the parlor. “I wanted it to be very ‘Marie Antoinette,’” she says of the room dominated by an oversized portrait of an unknown blonde woman—a piece Arutunian found in an antiques store—above a French daybed.
A vintage, stuffed peacock sits on a pedestal in the corner, a crystal chandelier hangs overhead, and a viola (daughter Emma plays) casually sits in a Pierre Frey-upholstered Louis XVI chair. Arutunian’s office is at the back of the parlor. From her command post, the multi-tasking mother of two can survey the swimming pool, the farm, and the reservation beyond.
The final stage of the home renovation was the conversion of an attached garage into Arutunian’s dream kitchen, anchored by 150-year-old Hemlock floors and topped with reproduction crystal pendant lamps. “I didn’t want a showroom kitchen. I wanted an all-furniture kitchen—no built-ins.”
She sourced a table from Mariah Carey and Tommy Mottola’s old house in Bedford, the imported tiles from Exquisite Surface, and the range from La Cornue, but the avid cook notes that while her upscale furnishings might give the impression that the décor is fragile and precious, it’s not like that at all. “My kids can go in any room, take their friends in there, and put their feet up on everything.
They go to the barn, they jump on the horse, and come in the kitchen with muddy boots. It’s a farm—a fancy farm. Actually a friend described the style as ‘rustic Liberace,’ and I’m good with that.”